I spent some of this Monday cutting and gathering wood. I`m pleased to see that, driving further and higher into my "patch" this time, there is still plenty deadwood to collect. Blue sky, sunlight and plum shadows enveloped me, Cezanne-like, rather than blanket grey dampness. Even the skyline gashes reflected ethereal elegance.
I hanker after some hardwood, but, beyond the very occasional prone birch, conspicuous in its whiteness, all is utilitarian spruce: fine for drying-out and burning. Quickly consumed.
Nonetheless I`m going to saw and set aside some of this seasoning birchwood. As well as being a wonderful fuel, I`ll squirrel it away for sculpting during summer months, .
No deer, no robin even. Only a buzzard`s cry.
I am growing to know this place. Despite its sunset-facing valley slope there is nothing grand or beautiful about it, though spruce elsewhere, north America perhaps, are impressive trees when left alone by us to fulfil their potential.
I`m merely a form of woodlouse, harvesting the dead and the dying; neither coppicing nor planting.
Prosaic as this work-a-day Borders woodland is, Muriel Barbery still speaks for it and for me when she observes:
“There's so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature...yes, that's it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are - vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth - and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honour this beauty that owes us nothing.”